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Human Resources

How to Hire a Graphic Designer

Graphic designers can have a large influence on your business impression and marketing success through the creation of logos, websites and other branded materials. Finding and hiring the best graphic designer for your business can be a challenge if you don’t know where to look or how to evaluate their work.

This guide will provide you with resources on finding good options for hiring graphic designers, as well as tips on what you need to look for throughout the process.

Where to Look

Before you start looking for a graphic designer, consider what you need accomplished and if you want to hire a firm, a freelancer or a full-time designer. Firms may have more experience and more resources, but you may not know exactly who will be working with you, and you may not be their top priority. Freelance workers are often more affordable and more accustomed to working with small businesses, yet they may be inexperienced or have fewer resources. Freelancers are less costly than employees (due to employee tax requirements and benefits), but if they are part-time, they may be juggling multiple clients and a busy schedule. A full-time in-house graphic designer can be useful for ongoing projects and companies that need a lot of designs on a daily basis. Decide what your priorities are and what option will best suit your needs.

Referrals

Look around at the website, branded materials and other products of local businesses. If you like the look of someone’s designs, ask them for a referral to their graphic designer; most people will be happy to share.

Recent Graduates

If you have a tight budget, you can consider posting jobs and getting referrals from a local university, art school or a design institute. Recent graduates may have less experience, but they’ll also have reduced rates and a formal education. If you don’t have enough money to pay a designer, you can consider hiring a graphic design student intern and give them the chance to build their portfolio and get school credit by working for your company.

Job Sites

The classic resume-hosting sites, such as Monster, Indeed and Career Builder, provide many resources for your search as well as a large pool of candidates. You have the option to browse resumes, or you can post to the job boards and begin sifting through the applications to find the best applicants. To post on multiple job boards at once, consider a service like ZipRecruiter.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great resource for finding potential candidates through your existing network. The site lets you post job listings for new openings, and you can also use the search feature to find potential candidates that have the qualities and skill set you are looking for in a designer.

Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a site that lets local communities organize groups that meet face-to-face. Many cities have groups based on careers and interests, so you can use the site to find a group of graphic designers in your area. Contact the organizer of the graphic design group and get referrals; he or she will likely know who will best fit your needs or will promote the position on their group board.

Design Marketplaces

Design marketplaces allow you to post a project (such as a call for a new logo design) and then allow a large community of graphic designers to submit their design. You can then choose your favorite from all of the submissions. Sites such as 99designs and crowdSPRING offer these virtually risk-free custom services. You decide who you will work with only after viewing several options.

Independent Contractor Sites

If you just have a short-term project or occasional small tasks that require a graphic designer, you may not want to hire a full-time employee. Finding a freelance worker through sites such as Elance, Craigslist and Guru are great cost-effective options. On these sites, you post a detailed description of what you need accomplished and then receive feedback from the online community.

Designer Directories

Designer directories such as AIGA Designer Directory and Core77 Design Directory allow you to browse portfolios of designers and post jobs on the website. You can search designers and firms by location, name, field or even your budget.

Job Boards and Portfolio Sites

Sites such as Behance, Krop and UCreative let you discover talented graphic designers by browsing portfolios and viewing designs. Through browsing, you can find someone who fits your needs and your tastes, or you can post a job to the job boards and narrow down the applicants.

Recruiting

A recruitment agency can help match you with a fitting graphic designer, taking much of the legwork out of the process for you. The recruiters will screen and test applicants, saving you a lot of time. Roz Goldfarb, iCreatives, The Creative Group and Filter are great recruiting options that work within the creative design community. Keep in mind, however, that recruiters often take a cut or fee from the employer for matching them with a designer.

How to Evaluate

There are many things to consider when evaluating a candidate, but you must know what you are looking for in the final product. What sort of style do you have in mind? Do you need a designer with a lot of range or one who specializes in a single style? What is your budget? What is your timeline? Have the answers to these questions ready before you even begin your search so you can find someone who adequately fits your needs.

To evaluate a candidate’s work, you will need to view samples. If choosing from a design marketplace or directory, you will likely have access to a resume and portfolio of samples from the designer. Many designers also have online portfolios of their work to demonstrate the variety of their capabilities.

If the designer applicants you are interested in do not have online portfolios, or if you want to see more of their work, request samples. You can also assign a trial project to evaluate their work and decide if their style is fitting for your needs.

While looking at the designer’s work, you need to know what you are looking for. Not only are you looking for a quality design that fits your wants and suits your business; you are also looking for someone who is responsive and meets deadlines. By assigning a trial project, you can also gauge how the designer works with you and your wants. Try your best to find a designer who understands your business and your goals and has an agreeable personality.

It is also recommended to get references from the designer before hiring them. Contact these references and ask about the quality of the designer’s work, their work ethic and reliability. You can also cross-reference the work they’ve taken credit for (for example, if they say they designed a specific page of a website, you can confirm that this is the case by speaking with the owner of the site).

Agreements and Contracts

Once you find a graphic designer, be sure to have them sign the appropriate documents for employment or contract work to ensure a smooth and legal hire and employment: